Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Smart Stepmom - Ron Deal & Laura Petherbridge

Synopsis from B&N:  In today's complicated stepfamily, the stepmom often doesn't know where to turn for help. Let stepfamily expert Ron Deal and experienced stepmom Laura Petherbridge show you how to survive and thrive as a stepmom.

This was an encouraging book to read.  This book gave me hope.  It also gave me something much greater:  the freedom to let go, not try so hard to make everyone play nice, and some measure of peace.
It is full of practical advice and real-life stepmom’s perspectives.  The book addresses “yours,” “mine,” should we have an “ours,” adult stepchildren, and more.  It really does cover the gamut.  Which is nice.
My favorite line:  “…without the father’s support, trying to parent his kids is like – as one stepmother said – ‘Setting your hair on fire and putting it out with a hammer!’”  J
I knew stepmothering would be hard.  It’s well known in the family that I was not the ideal stepchild myself.  However, some of the challenges that have come my way I did not (nor do I think I could have in a million years) anticipate.
I’m glad for resources like this to help me along the road.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Summary from B&N:  When Alice Ozma was in 4th grade, she and her father decided to see if he could read aloud to her for 100 consecutive nights. On the hundredth night, they shared pancakes to celebrate, but it soon became evident that neither wanted to let go of their storytelling ritual. So they decided to continue what they called "The Streak." Alice's father read aloud to her every night without fail until the day she left for college.

The concept of this book completely intrigued me. 

I absolutely believe in the value in reading to your kids, other people’s kids, any kid you can get to sit still (or hold down) long enough to listen.  It broadens their horizons, helps them learn about the world, and is a great tool for connecting.

I was a “read to” kid.  And I partially contribute my voracious reading and love of all things literary to that.  I also started reading on my own at an early age…that no doubt has helped in both school and life.

In fact, I’m sad at the fact I haven’t been able to establish a reading routine with my step-daughters.  I tried.  They weren’t interested.  I figured it would be best not to push it – pick your battles and all that jazz.  So all of my collected books for my “someday children” sit on a shelf where I visit them occasionally.  Luckily I have had some nieces and nephews I’ve been able to trap for a story now and again.

Anyway, back to the book.  I loved the concept.  A father and daughter reading together for eight years…every day.  To make it that kind of priority.  Amazing. 

I was a little disappointed in the book because I expected it to be more about the reading – books they’d read, lessons learned from the books, connections over books, etc.  And it really wasn’t that.  It was more about the author’s relationship with her father and the dynamics of that.  You get vignettes of their outings and conversations with only snippets of their reading.

Still, huge kudos for creating and accomplishing such a goal.  Those books will connect them to each other and their world.

As a bonus, there is an abbreviated reading list in the back.  Yikes!  More to add to the “to read” list.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Summary from B&N:  When Alice tumbles down, down, down a rabbit-hole one hot summer's afternoon in pursuit of a White Rabbit she finds herself in Wonderland. And there begin the fantastical adventures that will see her experiencing extraordinary changes in size, swimming in a pool of her own tears and attending the very maddest of tea parties. For Wonderland is no ordinary place and the characters that populate it are quite unlike anybody young Alice has ever met before. In this imaginary land she encounters the savagely violent Queen, the Lachrymose Mock Turtle, the laconic Cheshire Cat and the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, each as surprising and outlandish as the next. Alice's adventures have made her the stuff of legend, the child heroine par excellence, and ensured that Carroll's book is the best loved and most widely read in children's literature.

What a wonderful bit of nonsense. 
Of course, I have long been familiar with the story of Alice’s adventures.  However, I do believe this is the first time I’ve ever read the book. 

I enjoyed both the prose and poetry.  The imagination Carroll must have had.

Definitely a good choice to read on an hour and a half plane ride.

Six Ways to Keep the "Little" in Your Girl - Dannah Gresh

Summary from B&N:  Studies show that the foundation for an emotionally healthy teen girl is built between the ages of 8-12 and that a good relationship with mom is one of the most important factors. So when the world wants girls to grow up too fast, how does a mother help her young daughter navigate the stormy waters of boy-craziness, modesty and body image, media, Internet safety, and more? With a warm, transparent style, Dannah Gresh shares six ways a mom can help protect and guide her daughter, including:

  • help her celebrate her body in a healthy way
  • unbrand her when the world tries to buy and sell her
  • unplug her from a plugged-in world
  • dream with her about her prince, and more
I think an excellent book for any parent of a tween – and the earlier you read it the better.
Dannah Gresch covers six key areas in protecting your daughter and guiding her in God’s way.  Some of the areas covered are modesty, media, and body image.  She pulls from both Biblical truth and secular studies as her basis.
She gives hope, encouragement, and guidance.  And prayer and connecting with your daughter(s) is priority throughout.  When you have connection and a strong relationship with your daughter, that helps you through the tween (and teen) years.
My application of the information is a bit of a challenge due to the nature of step-daughters and part-time parenting.  But I did have the “talk” and will continue to discuss values and guide where I can. 
My only complaint:  I added 13 new books that were mentioned in the text to my “to read” list.

Number the Stars - Lois Lowry

Summary from B&N:  This Newbery Medal Book describes how a ten-year-old Danish girl's bravery is tested when her best friend is threatened by Nazis in 1943.
I am getting ready to start the 8th grade Holocaust unit in conjunction with our social studies teacher.  Number the Stars is written on a fifth grade level, and I have not read it before.  It is also a book on my bookshelf.  So I read it on my flights to D.C.

I found it to be very…bland.  Probably because I have read so many other Holocaust stories – and most of those being survivor tales.

However, I do think this could serve as a decent introduction to the horrific time in history.  It tells the story of Annemarie, a non-Jewish girl in Denmark, and how the Nazis affected her and her friend’s life.